An architectural interventionist approach to urban revitilisation : a proposed hotel for Durban's waterfront.
Having been founded on the basis of trade through its port, Durban has progressively evolved and grown. However, as a result of the dependence on the port, a physical and intangible disconnection has developed between the city fabric and *water’s edge. This has manifested itself in the road and rail connection along the Margaret Mncadi Avenue (formerly the Victoria Embankment) creating a barrier between the city and its edge. As a result of this lack of integration, another issue has arisen: ‘lost space’. This space is undesirable and not conducive to a good city image for the central business district. It becomes apparent that with these factors, there is due cause for an investigation for revitalisation and as Richard Marshall suggests in ‘Waterfronts in Post Industrial Cities’, that using the highly visible urban environment of the waterfront as a tool for revitalisation of the area (Waterfront’s in Post Industrial Cities: 2001, 2) and, in the long term - the revitalisation of the city. Studies of Sydney’s Darling Harbour, Baltimore’s Inner Harbour and Seattle’s waterfront provide insight as to how these interventions uplifted and revitalised these respective cities. Key outcomes of these precedent studies include the mixed-use nature at the waterfront, connections to the city fabric, promenade, open space and a pavilion-like architecture. Most integral to the findings are the inclusion of all dynamics of people who inhabit the surrounding areas utilising the waterfront, making it both an attractive urban locality and a safe urban environment. The inclusion of the cross-section of city dwellers amounts in the mixed-use nature of the waterfront. It is therefore apparent that on the micro scale, the urban intervention should be of a mixed-use nature, further to which, the dire need for hotels in the region of the waterfront, as well as Durban as a whole, point to an intervention by virtue of a mixed-use hotel. From the investigation into the case studies, the design parameters further outline where the intervention needs to address the street edge and public realm, creating a precedent for waterfront design with the intention of the urban design linking the city and water’s edge. The end consequence of such design parameters would be to make the waterfront physically accessible for the purposes of leisure, recreation and commerce for tourists and Durbanites alike. *water’s edge specifically refers to the edge along Margaret Mncadi avenue strecthing between Wilson’s Wharf and the Bat centre, including the Yacht Basin.